Well well well, after what is probably at least a 14-year absence, I'm back for a special edition of the news and rumors here at rajah.com! While long time readers likely need no introduction, most of you reading this probably have no clue what the "news and rumors" even is so let me briefly explain. When I first launched this site 20 years ago, there was no headlines newsboard and there were no contributors. It was just me writing up the day's news, rumors and other backstage happenings in a report style format where I would often throw in my own opinions and speculations. I did this every day for the first few years and they were a massive hit but unfortunately, I gradually burned out and lost interest and I think my last edition was sometime in late 2003. With rajah.com celebrating 20 years, I thought I'd bust out the ol' laptop and give it another go and give you all a blast from the past. With that said, here we go...
On Monday, WWE presented its latest Raw program and I sat through the full three hours for the first time in years and found it to be an average show, albeit with some major announcements. The big news was the announcement of the first ever women's Royal Rumble as well as making the triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Kane official. Other highlights included a pretty good Seth Rollins vs. Jason Jordan match, a Dean Ambrose injury angle, the Revival's return to TV and the furthering of Matt Hardy's path to being woken. If you missed Raw, feel free to get caught up by reading the Raw Report.
The following night, Smackdown Live hit the air and overall, I thought it was a really good show with more subtle teasing of tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, a great six-man tag team match that served as the main event and Dolph Ziggler seemingly quitting, but not really as it's definitely just a storyline. If you need a recap of what went down on the show, check out the Smackdown Report.
With no more PPVs left in 2017, WWE has shifted focus to the Royal Rumble with the announcement that Brock Lesnar will defend his Universal title against both Braun Strowman and Kane. Ever since Lesnar's originally scheduled program with Finn Balor was scrapped a few weeks ago, there were question marks on what direction the company would go in regards to Lesnar and his participation at the Rumble. With no real suitable opponent around, WWE reportedly considered not having Lesnar wrestle at all, but that didn't really make sense to have the Universal champion no show one of the major PPVs. Braun Strowman was also considered in a one-on-one rematch, but Vince McMahon nixed that one quickly feeling that it was not the right time for Strowman to be sacrificed to Lesnar again. He was absolutely correct in that regard as the first Lesnar vs. Strowman match was not pretty and WWE has spent weeks trying to reverse that by building Braun back up. Suffice to say, another loss in a span of a few months would be damaging. Enter Kane, the proverbial fall guy who no doubt is only in the match to take the loss so both Lesnar and Strowman can be protected headed into WrestleMania. If you needed any evidence of that, that opening segment on Raw spoke volumes with Strowman and Lesnar barely interacting and Kane taking the F5. The way WWE books their storylines, expect these three to take turns getting the upper hand as they build towards their match in January. Lesnar is still a huge favorite to walk out of this the winner as WWE goes full steam ahead with his planned showdown against Roman Reigns.
WWE wrote Dean Ambrose off of TV by doing an injury angle on Raw where they made it seem like he legit messed up his elbow/arm. They even brought out medical personnel to make it seem like a shoot but as we all know by now, Ambrose has been battling his triceps injury for several weeks and it apparently got worse this weekend. He showed up to Raw in bad shape and it became clear pretty quick that he was dealing with something that will sideline him for a while, necessitating the need to explain his imminent absence to the audience. Following Raw, WWE was quick to communicate that Ambrose would be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing a partial tear of his triceps tendon. They didn't give any indication how long he would be out of action, but there is probably hope that he can be back for WrestleMania in April. I thought it was a nice touch to have the "injury" occur during a Seth Rollins suicide dive because it gives WWE the option of starting a feud between Rollins and Ambrose when the latter returns. Ambrose was probably headed for a heel turn sooner or later and this sets it up pretty well in that when he comes back, he could just blame the whole thing on Rollins.
Stephanie McMahon made an appearance on Raw, solely to announce WWE's inaugural women's Royal Rumble, an idea that has been discussed for many weeks, if not months. It was really only a matter of time before this happened with the company pushing their female stars as the equivalent of their male counterparts, first by getting rid of the "diva" term and rebranding as the women's division and then earlier in 2017, holding the first ever women's Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank matches. The company has thus far stayed away from any specific details, including the number of competitors, the time period between entrants or the placement of the two Rumble matches on the card but I'd venture to guess that we'll see probably 20 competitors, perhaps 30, with a minute or maybe a minute and a half between each entry. I'd also assume that they won't put the men's and women's matches back-to-back as that would seem to be overkill, though I can't see the women's match being first on the card either. The Rumble itself on the men's side has traditionally been around an hour and with the major PPVs now around 4 hours in length, time won't be a problem but it will be interesting to see what other matches are used to construct the rest of the card.
One of the rumors that came out of the women's Royal Rumble announcement is the possible in-ring debut of MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, who has been training extensively at the WWE Performance Center for several weeks. While both parties vehemently deny that any agreement has been reached between the two sides, it really only is a matter of time before we see Rousey in WWE culminating in a match at WrestleMania. If Rousey is a surprise entrant in the Rumble, you have to believe she would the favorite to win the event as it wouldn't make much sense to have her debut only to end up losing. The most speculated scenario indeed has Rousey winning the match and then going on to face either the Raw or Smackdown champion at WrestleMania with her likely opponent being either Charlotte Flair or Asuka, who by inference would have to beat Alexa Bliss between January and April for the Raw women's title. Rousey's inclusion in the Rumble as her first match also makes sense to me because it's a match where she can show up for a few minutes and still make a meaningful impact as opposed to rushing her into a singles match where it would be a lot more difficult to protect her. In the other words, in a match like the Royal Rumble, she can pretty much get away with her lack of experience.
Dave Bautista, known in WWE circles as simply Batista, has been in the news recently as he appears to have intentions of making one last run with the company. It's a bit surprising given his past comments and his successful Hollywood career, but Batista had gone on record to say that he would welcome a return as a full-time wrestler. That last point is pretty significant because it appears he doesn't have interest in returning as a part-time player like a Brock Lesnar or Goldberg but more of a regular recurring character on TV, more like Chris Jericho. What may complicate matters is that Lesnar does his thing irregularly and it helps him stay fresh whereas with Batista, I'm not convinced that his character will be able to pull that off especially because I'm guessing he wants to come back as a main eventer and wants to stay there. That is a completely different situation than Chris Jericho, who doesn't seem to care where on the roster he is positioned or who he needs to put over.
Vince McMahon also made headlines on Thursday when it was revealed that he sold approximately $100 million of his shares in WWE, likely to use the money to fund his new venture, Alpha Entertainment or whatever it's called. This adds significant fuel to the XFL-is-coming-back fire which was already gaining steam after reports emerged that McMahon had trademarked several terms associated with the XFL and football in general. I'm not really sure what more there is to say on this topic but obviously the timing of these developments certainly seems to imply that something is definitely up. If McMahon does indeed turn again to football, it would almost seem like using the "XFL" moniker would be corporate suicide considering the incredible failure of his league in 2001.
A rumored list of inductees for the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame seemed to make it online over the past week and the indivduals included The Dudleys, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ivory, Kid Rock and Bill Goldberg as the major superstar or headliner. It looks like a pretty realistic list to me, though there will be a lot of people who will no doubt wonder why someone like Chyna isn't posthumously inducted. She literally begged WWE to bury the hatchet so that they could work together again and the company pretty much ignored her so I'm not really surprised that they aren't jumping at the opportunity to name her as an entrant. However, it should go without saying that she'll be there sooner or later, perhaps in a couple of years so it doesn't seem like WWE went ahead and inducted her only after she died.
So that's gonna wrap things up from my end here, but before I go, here's the part where I fill the rest of the report with some one liners, random thoughts, rhetorical questions and whatever else I didn't feel like writing a paragraph about...
Jason Jordan is definitely going to be turning heel after this failed run as Kurt Angle's son. It would be great if somehow he reveals that he's not Angle's son but was in cahoots with Triple H and/or Stephanie McMahon to screw Angle and get him out of WWE.
Speaking of Angle, I couldn't help but laugh that during his opening interview, he told us that "by the end of the night", he'd reveal Brock Lesnar's opponent and then only minutes later, he just announced it and left.
Seemed like not a lot of people cared or even knew who Hideo Itami was when he ran out to save Finn Balor. Balor and Itami don't exactly have an extensive past with one another, but they sure pushed their association in order to give Itami the superstar rub.
Why does Stephanie McMahon have to wear heels when she's talking to the Raw women's roster? She looks gigantic next to everyone except Nia Jax.
I appreciate the fact that WWE wanted to make the women's Royal Rumble announcement a monumental event and it also made sense to end the show on that note, but how silly was it to have Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss come out to save Sasha Banks and then for all the women to just stand around and wait for Steph to deliver her spiel?
Nia Jax and Enzo definitely seem like they will be one of the tag teams in the upcoming Mixed Match Challenge and while this is purely a comedic pairing, I do like the idea of having men's and women's storylines overlap or at least be associated in some way.
I guess Nia and Enzo have a rule going that they can only talk during the three hours every Monday that Raw is on. I wonder what they do Tuesday to Sunday?
During the replay of the finish of the Asuka vs. Alicia Fox match, Booker T said "that's the coup d'etat right there" which would mean that Asuka was overthrowing a government or something. Booker meant to say "coup de grace" but is often inadvertently funny and sometimes completely out in left field.
Randy Orton looks like he grew some new hair...I did hear that he had a hair transplant recently and it sure looked like it on Smackdown.
Well, that does it for me and I must admit that writing this up at Saturday at 2 AM wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be, though I'm sure I've made at least one or two glaring mistakes. Hopefully some of you who have stayed with rajah.com for most of the last two decades are still here and enjoyed this time machine back to the late 90s and for those of you who are reading me for the very first time, I hope this wasn't too painful. Either way, I'd like to hear from you all so if you want to drop me a line, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, feedback, hate mail, or whatever else. Who knows, maybe I won't wait another 15 years before I'm back with another update but you can certainly be on the lookout for some new (or would that be old?) sections popping up on the site in the new year.
Happy Holidays to you all! Laterrrrr.